Men's hockey beats UNE, advances to NCAA quarterfinal round

BIDDEFORD, Maine -- The Colby College men's hockey team is part of the great eight after advancing to the NCAA Division III Tournament quarterfinals after a thrilling 4-2 win over seventh-ranked University of New England in first round play Saturday.

The Mules (16-10-2) and unbeaten in their last eight games (6-0-2) will play at Geneseo in a quarterfinal game next Saturday at 7 p.m.. The Mules hosted Geneseo last year in the Colby/Bowdoin Face-Off Classic and fell 4-3 in overtime. Geneseo took a 4-2 opening round win at Hobart College on Saturday.
 
"Every team you play at this time of year is very good. We're down to the final eight in the country and it's more about us then it is about Geneseo," Colby head coach Blaise MacDonald said. "Our confidence comes from playing in such a great league as the NESCAC with quality opponents every night."
 
Kienan Scott scored a pair of goals in the second period and Sean Lawrence continued his dazzling goaltending for the Mules with 33 saves.
 
Game highlights
* The game got off to a tough start for the Mules. Colby took an early penalty against the best power play unit in the country. UNE scored first when Ryan Bloom tallied from in front off some quick passes.
 
* The Mules, fresh off a NESCAC title run and three league playoff wins, never got flustered. Kienan Scott tied the game at 1-1 on a terrific two-on-one sequence with Nick O'Connor, who started the play at his own blue line. He rushed the puck up the right side and faked the shot before crossing the puck to Scott for the tap-in score.
 
* The Nor'easters (20-6-3) took their second lead of the game when Liam Neuman scored off a rebound at 9:04 of what became an entertaining middle stanza.
 
* The Mules scored two goals in a span of 3:32 to take the lead for good. With Colby on the power play, Justin Grillo found Cam MacDonald behind the UNE net to start the sequence. MacDonald came out like he might do a wraparound, but instead hit Michael Rudolf with a quick pass for the goal at 12:26.
 
* The Mules went from a man-up goal to a short-handed score at 15:58 on Scott's second of the game from O'Connor. After a face-off on the right side, O'Connor won a battle behind the net for the puck and immediately passed it to Scott for a one-timer at 15:58.
 
"The first goal was a great shot fake to find me backdoor. I just put my head down and went to the net," Scott said. "Nick is great at winning battles for the puck, but I honestly didn't think he was going to come up with that puck against two or three UNE guys on the second goal. I started yelling for the pass and was able to get the puck above the goalie's glove."
 
* Joe Schuler made a terrific individual effort to give the Mules a 4-2 lead at 9:14 of the third period. He carried a puck into the Nor'easter zone and reversed direction at the left face-off dot. Instead of looking to pass the puck off, Schuler took  a tough angle shot that may have surprised UNE goalie Tate Sproxton.
 
"We have talented players that are playing well together with good chemistry and confidence," MacDonald said. "We are also doing a better job of playing on the interior of the rink, giving ourselves screens, rebounds, and second chance opportunities.
 
By the numbers
Colby is now 13-0 this season in games where they have scored four goals or more, including all four playoff victories.
 
"I didn't know that stat, but it doesn't surprise me," Colby tri-captain Dan Dupont said. "Sean is so good and it's so tough to score on him. Our offense has been working because we've been unselfish and have gotten points from across the line-up."
 
* Lawrence has allowed just five goals in four playoff wins against Amherst, Wesleyan, Trinity, and UNE. He has eight straight games with 30 saves or more.
 
* The Mules took the early penalty in giving up a power play goal. However, Colby only had two more penalties the rest of the game to keep UNE's power play unit off the ice.
 
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